The designer who so memorably told two strangers, "I love Hitler. People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers, you'd all be fucking gassed," may be at an undisclosed location, receiving treatment for alcoholism, but his French lawyer has oh so very many things to say on the record to Israeli news site Ynet.
Why give an exclusive to a random Israeli website? Because he, lawyer Stephane Zerbib, is Jewish, see! (The piece is helpfully headlined, "Galliano's Jewish Lawyer.") And obviously no Jew would ever stand up for anti-Semitism, duh, so this whole thing must be some kind of misunderstanding.
Zerbib says he's received death threats for defending Galliano as he attempts to fight charges of using anti-Semitic hate speech and assaulting a couple in a Paris café. "Some people call me anonymously, swear at me," says Zerbib. "There are always those people who make a fuss but it's very easy to judge without knowing the case." Zerbib also claims, "Galliano is not a racist or an anti-Semite."
Your client is accused of making rather harsh anti-Semitic comments. What is your explanation for this?
"I have no explanation. It could happen to any one of us. Anyone can go to a bar, drink a little and get into a fight with someone."
So alcohol is to blame?
"It's alcohol mixed with medications. You're very vulnerable when you're in this state. People who don't know the case can afford to say things and they all have opinions. It's easy to talk, criticize, be appalled. But these people don't know what really happened."
When asked about the infamous "Hitler" video — which dates from a separate incident, different from the two other incidents that French police are investigating as criminal matters, for one of which Galliano has already been charged — Zerbib replied the he found it upsetting "of course, but it's not part of the trial."
How did it make you feel? It's quite an appalling video.
"Of course it's appalling. But then you realize it's not in the trial for a reason. Let's just say that today this video is worth nothing."
According to the reporter, "Zerbib then gently suggests that it may have been staged but refuses to say more on the matter."
You never reconsidered taking the case?
"No. First of all it has nothing to do with the fact I'm Jewish or not. In this profession we take an oath to provide any person with the possibility of defense, regardless of their social background, nationality, religion or skin color. Just like doctors. Moreover, he is not guilty to the best of my knowledge, he hasn't been convicted so that question is not relevant. But the media has always been quicker than the legal system, that is the problem today."
What did your family make of the whole thing? What did your mother think, for instance?
"They all talk to me about it. She said she was very proud her son is doing his job and respects his oath."
Cynics would say he hired you specifically because you are Jewish.
"If it amuses them let them say it. But I have been John Galliano's lawyer for the past seven years. It has nothing to do with the fact that I have a Jewish name."
Did you sense his alleged prejudices over the years?
Were you surprised by the recent publications?
"Very. I'm not the only one — everyone was surprised. I heard about it that same Thursday, but there was no talk of anti-Semitism at the time. The cops weren't handling it as a case of anti-Semitism."
So what were they investigating?
"An argument between people, like people fight in a bar."
Strange, there have been anti-Semitic quotes in the press.
"Yes, that's the complaint the woman filed."
And you still believe he never made such comments.
In your experience, what kind of a person is he?
"He's polite, courteous, very human. His collections have always been about tolerance, openness, love and mutual respect. He even did a show inspired by the homeless to remind us of the creativity of those struggling to make it with little financial means."
That last part is totally true — Galliano was the originator of Homeless Chic.
Galliano's Jewish Lawyer [YNet]